Nanostructured composite membranes for co-generation of water and energy
- Graduate student: Zachary Hendren (Environmental Engineering, Duke University)
- Primary Adviser: Dr. Mark Wiesner (Environmental Engineering , Duke University)
- PERMEANT collaboration: Dr. Jerome Rose (CEREGE)
The proton exchange membrane fuel cell takes a fuel such as hydrogen or methane and produces electrical energy while giving carbon dioxide and water as by-products. Although breakthroughs over the years have dramatically increased the power output of this technology and thereby increasing its viability, there are still limitations that need to be overcome before it can become a mainstream energy alternative. One of these is the development of a low-cost, easy to manufacture membrane. Iron based ceramics, known as ferroxanes have been shown to be one possible alternative. These membranes are manufactured through an environmentally benign process with inexpensive starting materials. Early work indicates that fuel cell energy production is relatively independent of relative humidity. Future work will focus on increasing proton conductivity as well as reducing fuel crossover. Fuel crossover will be addressed by reducing the size of the nanoparticle precursors, resulting in a tighter pore structure. Various dopants will be investigated to increase conductivity properties, as well for anode and cathode catalyst synthesis.